By Doreen Hemlock
June 11, 2014
To view original article click here.
Residents of South Florida spend more of their income on housing than people in any other major metropolitan area, a regional planning group said Wednesday.
The finding, released by the South Florida Regional Planning Council, was one of several showing economic inequities in the tri-county area. Planners called for stronger efforts to make housing more affordable and other steps to broaden economic opportunity.
South Florida ranks No. 1 among the largest 150 metro areas for the “housing burden” on renters and homeowners — defined as spending that tops 30 percent of income, the group said.
Average housing costs are up and average incomes flat or shrinking. And that burden has only gotten worse since the Great Recession made home ownership tougher and rentals more sought after, said James Murley, who leads the council.
Indeed, the latest data from 2006-2010 show that 62 percent of renters in the area are housing-burdened, up from 47 percent in 2000.
“We’re concerned about creating the kinds of jobs that will allow families to rent or buy homes,” Murley said at a session aimed to forge a seven-county Southeast Florida Regional Opportunity Network including government, business, civic, nonprofit and academic groups to spur the economy long-term.
The housing burden hits the poor and minorities worse than other groups, data show.
The majority living in Southeast Florida today are “people of color,” either black or Hispanic, census data show. At all levels of education, people of color on average earn less than whites, the studies show.
So, the 12 percent of local residents in poverty are disproportionately black and Hispanic. And many of those live in communities that have been home for generations to poor minorities, such as parts of central Broward and west Palm Beach County, said researcher James Carras of Carras CommunityInvestment.
“Poverty and segregation are not on our commission agenda. They’re not part of our advisory board discussion,” Carras told nearly 100 participants at the meeting in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s a difficult discussion, but it needs to come out.”
To address the housing problem, some states require 10 percent or 15 percent of new housing be affordable. Other communities assign select developer fees to a trust fund for affordable housing.
“We have a huge toolbox out there of strategies that work, but many have not been tried in South Florida,” Carras told participants.
A regional approach can help address economic-opportunity issues, because the Southeast Florida area of 6.1 million residents has more population than 35 states. That means more clout to sway legislation or woo funds, said Murley of the South Florida Regional Planning Council.